Wednesday, August 31, 2005

This is a post I wrote on Monday and held back until today ---

Every year, just before Labor Day, is the mad flurry known around the Commish household as “Football Draft Week”. I typically have between three and six Fantasy Football League drafts (running many of the leagues, hence the “Commish” part of my name), temporarily tying up the home computer and around $300-400 in family funds. This year, I’ve set up a wireless network and scaled back my FFL exploits to a select few leagues, reducing my computer hogging to nil, and my financial commitment to $200 or so.

The first $100 draft of the year was Saturday night. I joined this league courtesy of Donkeypuncher, and won it a couple of years ago, buying myself considerable wifey-equity by using the cash winnings to buy a new reclining sofa for the family. Since then, each time I cordon off my desk and announce “Don’t bother me for a couple of hours, I have a draft”, my wife will ask “Is this the league with Jeff?”. She apparently has made the connection between these brief isolations and new furniture, so I get my peace and quiet.

However, last Saturday was a different matter. A good buddy invited my whole brood over for dinner and a gabfest and given that he was Best Man at my wedding, and one of the other groomsmen was attending, I felt a small sense of peer pressure to attend, despite the impending draft. I told him of my prior commitment and he had his high-speed network connection loaded up and ready when we got there. He and I had been in a different league that started in 1984, so he knew the drill. As a side note, I found one of my draft sheets from 1985 and the first three draft picks were Dan Marino, Marcus Allen, and Herschel Walker… ah, memories.

Anyway, the draft order had been announced the week before and I was pretty satisfied with the #3 pick knowing that I would get either Manning or Shaun Alexander. I’m not especially sold on Priest playing all 16 games, so I took Alexander when Manning went second. Another side note: just to show you what kind of guys are in this league, team #2 is named “Tossin’ Salad”. If you don’t know, google it. Preferably when you’re not at work.

Most of the drafters are reasonably sharp (especially for $100/pop), so there were no huge surprises for the first two rounds. I had Julius Jones primed for my second pick when he went right before me (I frickin’ hate that), leaving me with problem child TO for my second pick. Point of strategy in Yahoo leagues, you are required to play THREE receivers each week, meaning you need at least four serviceable receivers to rotate during bye weeks, bad matchups, and injuries. Since many FFL players started on ESPN or Sportsline, they’re used to the two WR requirement, and therefore under-draft at the position. When my second pick came up, I had to choose between a top-three receiver and a second-tier running back (Portis, KJones, SJackson) and I rolled the dice hoping one of those three would be there when my turn came back around. Of course, they weren’t.

Here’s where we have a problem. One, I don’t have a decent #2 RB yet. Two, the wives all conspired to order Chinese food, which they insisted the men all pick up while they happily munch on Brie and let my $100 go pissing away. So I’m stalled and complained while my choices for second RB and Marvin Harrison are drafted, leaving me at a major strategic crossroads. Should I draft a mediocre RB or go with a solid tier two receiver? Should I feign injury so I don’t have to leave the computer? Should I leave the drafting to some Yahoo? In order, I drafted Holt (over Chad Johnson), I went to the Chinese restaurant and risked my entire draft, and I left my 12-year old son in charge of drafting the next few rounds.

So, as I was running out the door, I told Trevor to pick the best RB on my draft board with the next pick, and then a QB. Most of the teams had already locked in two RBs, so I thought I’d get Deshaun Foster or Fred Taylor, both with good “upside”. Trevor, bless his heart, took Chris Brown, who had looked good against the abysmal 49er defense the night before. I guess he was paying attention. But at the wrong time. He followed this pick with Tom Brady, no argument here. In the sixth, he snagged Jerry Porter, an inspired selection as it completed my WR gamebreaker triumvirate.

Now, around here he started getting a little frantic since he was recognizing fewer and fewer names. He decided to go with a backup QB about three rounds too early and tagged Drew Brees, but apparently the stress was getting to him. He called my buddy’s cell phone with a shaky voice saying “Why are you making me do this?” I had him recap the selections and told him to take the top TE next, who turned out to be Alge Crumpler. Had he called me a round earlier, I would’ve taken Todd Heap over Brees. We’ll see how that turns out.

Around then, we’re pulling into the driveway with the food, so I jump out of the car and run in. My wife is yelling at me because Trevor was pacing and pulling his hair and practically crying the whole time. Why? Because I told him that it was a $100 buy-in. Oh well. I hug the boy and tell him he did well (whaddya want me to do, chew him out?). But now I’m desperate for RB help, so I end up drafting Pittsburgh’s two crippled RBs (hey, one of them has to play soon) over the next three rounds sandwiched around a Houshlaskjdajdahzadeh. Well, at least I have four receivers, any three of which can go for 100 yds and a TD every single week. I just have to pick the right ones. I have decent quarterbacking. I have a blue-chipper, a soon-to-be backup, and two gimps at RB. It’s likely that a team with bad receivers (there are a few) might come calling with RBs after they notice that they’re supposed to choose THREE each week. At least, I hope so. Or it’s gonna be a long long year.


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